Handbook of Research on Global Corporate Citizenship
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Handbook of Research on Global Corporate Citizenship

Edited by Andreas Georg Scherer and Guido Palazzo

The Handbook of Research on Global Corporate Citizenship identifies and fosters key interdisciplinary research on corporate citizenship and provides a framework for further academic debate on corporate responsibility in a global society.
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Chapter 25: The Future of Global Corporate Citizenship: Toward a New Theory of the Firm as a Political Actor

Guido Palazzo and Andreas Georg Scherer


25 The future of global corporate citizenship: toward a new theory of the firm as a political actor Guido Palazzo and Andreas Georg Scherer Introduction What is the responsibility of business in society? The potential answers to that question depend on the specific cultural, political and economic constellation of the society in which corporations operate. Whenever the constellations will change the answers will change. During the second half of the 20th century, business operations were framed by relatively stable legal and moral parameters imposed by national governments and homogeneous social communities. The 21st century has started with the rise of the transnational corporation (TNC) and the erosion of both the national regulatory power and the clearness and homogeneity of moral custom (Palazzo and Scherer 2006; Scherer and Palazzo 2008). As a result, the traditional taken-for-granted division of labor between business and politics is blurred. Business activities are politicized because of the growing global problems with unintended social and environmental side-effects, the growing power of business actors on the global playing field and the selfregulatory activities of some of them (Scherer and Palazzo 2007). The debate on corporate social responsibility (CSR) has started to reflect upon the theoretical and practical consequences of globalization only recently. However, the faster the societal context changes, the less useful the established concepts of corporate responsibility become. In the highly influential CSR pyramid of Carroll (1991), for instance, there seems to be no place for the privatization of human rights violations. Carroll’s...

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